LISTEN TO JENNY REED
In order to address poverty in the District of Columbia, it is important to know who it is that is poor. That’s the thrust of a report released by Jenny Reed of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute. A recent front page article in the Washington Post noted that 43 percent of African American children in the District are living in poverty. As Reed writes in “Who is Low-Income in DC“:
“The District of Columbia’s poverty rate is far above the national average and has remained high even in periods of strong economic growth. Some 133,000 residents – nearly one-quarter of the population – are low income… [with] income at or below $24,475 a year for a family of three. DC’s low-income population is so large that it would overflow RFK Stadium and the Nationals’ Ballpark combined.”
Last night, Mayor-elect Vincent Gray dropped the “presumptive” from his title and took one more step towards inheriting D.C.’s $175 million budget shortfall, with an additional $400 million deficit projected for 2012. There will be some – from the wealthier parts of the city – who will call on Gray to cut spending across the board. However, at a time when there are so many in the District living in poverty, there are others who are calling for a more balanced and targeted approach to fixing the budget.
Reed said, “Raising taxes on those who can most afford it [is] actually better for the economy than spending cuts. And the reason for that is… [that] low-income families are more likely to spend dollar-for-dollar what they get in the local economy, and right away. Higher-income families spend a lot of their income outside of states’ borders, outside the local economy and they also tend to hold on to a lot of it… So when you’re forced to either do cuts or tax increases, the least harmful effect on the economy is raising taxes on those who can most afford it.”